"The Purest Love"
A few days after the incident,
Dr. Ogden went to check on Trell.
The little faeder was still ensconced
in Seriit's territory, and had built -- or
had built for him -- one of the lean-tos
that the Fifers liked, with a clever roof
that could tilt in either direction
to block the changing winds.
"How are you doing?"
Dr. Ogden asked him.
"Do you like it here?
Have your friends
come to visit you?"
"It's nice," Trell said.
"Most of my friends have
visited. I kind of like Seriit.
He's ... different."
"It's all right, Trell,"
Seriit called. "Everyone
knows that I'm a pervert."
He hadn't lowered his voice at all.
"Your people seem pretty tolerant,"
Dr. Ogden said. "I haven't heard
of any sexual prejudices yet."
"I don't like topping other males,"
Seriit said. "I only enjoy females."
Dr. Ogden looked around, and
sure enough, the pale-ruffed males
he'd seen earlier were still around.
"Yet you have several beth males,
who I'm given to understand
are somewhat in demand."
"Wheef doesn't like bottoming
or topping with other males either,"
Seriit said, pointing his beak at one of
the beths. "Thoot and Dree are happy
doing each other. We all put on a show
to get the females in the mood, of course."
"I'm glad you've all found something
that works for you," Dr. Ogden said.
No wonder shy, traumatized Trell
had taken refuge here. He wouldn't
feel as threatened by an aleph
who didn't desire other males.
"We have," Seriit said. "I like
having male friends who don't
expect things I can't give. Besides,
the females don't care what we do with
each other, just as long as I'm gentle
with the beths and faeders and we're
willing to dance for them now and then."
"Friendship is the purest love,"
Dr. Ogden said. "It is the highest
form of love where nothing is asked for,
no condition, where one simply enjoys giving."
"Yes," said Seriit. "That is how I feel."
"Trell? Have you made any new friends
since you came here?" asked Dr. Ogden.
"Maybe," said Trell. "It's hard for me
to tell. I feel less wind-tossed, though."
"That's good," said Seriit. "You're safe
here; nobody will bother you in my territory.
Give yourself time and your body will
learn what 'safe' feels like to you."
That was excellent advice.
Then something else caught his eye,
a small aleph gathering up stones nearby.
"What's he doing this close?" Dr. Ogden said.
"Oh, that's my new neighbor Tseep,"
said Seriit. "He fledged out looking like
a beth, but apparently he's an aleph.
Did you know that could happen?"
"I know of a similar condition in
humans, called gender dysphoria,"
said Dr. Ogden. "It's upsetting, but
quite treatable with modern medicine."
"I've heard that it's unnatural, but well,
look at him," Seriit said. "Tseep may be
as skittish as a leaf in the wind, but he
seems a lot happier than he used to be."
"It's natural, all right," said Dr. Ogden.
"Some animal species have members who
act like the opposite sex, too, so I imagine
that the pattern is universal, or nearly so."
"Interesting," Seriit said. "Anyway,
a lot of unusual people wash up at
this end of the beach, so I gave him
a bit of space to keep the other alephs
from trying to peck him to pieces."
"That was kind of you," said Dr. Ogden.
"I know how competitive your people
can be, though. Is that safe for you?"
Seriit fluffed his dark glossy ruff
and trilled a laugh. "I may be
a pervert, but the Wind has
blessed me with big muscles.
I can hold my own -- and his."
Maybe there was more than
one reason for Trell to feel
comfortable under Seriit's wing.
* * *
Dr. Ellis Ogden -- a human man
Trell -- a faeder male with a history of abuse. He came from another colony that doesn't treat its faeders as well, and he's struggling to adapt to his new home.
Seriit -- an aleph male who takes the unusual step of not posturing to attract attention and thereby coaxes Trell into his territory.
Tseep -- a Fifer with the plumage of a beth male who feels like an aleph male.
* * *
"Friendship is the purest love. It is the highest form of Love where nothing is asked for, no condition, where one simply enjoys giving."
A lean-to is typically made with a roof slanting in one direction. If you want a fire, build the lean-to so wind blows sideways through it to carry the smoke away. If you don't need a fire, however, you can build a lean-to which blocks the wind. Fifers make a long roof which pivots between the two upright posts. This way they can tilt the roof in response to changing conditions to block sea breezes by day and land breezes at night.
Gender dysphoria is the distress felt when subjective gender and physical sex do not match. There are ways to cope with it and support a friend who has it. In a nutshell, be yourself, let other people be themselves, and don't worry about the shape of anyone's crotch unless you plan to make direct contact with it.